The CNCS is the first conservation centre in France or abroad entirely devoted to material theatrical heritage. Its missions include the conservation, study and promotion of a collection of over 9,000 theatre, opera and ballet costumes as well as painted décor and deposits from the Centre's three founding institutions: the Bibliothèque national de France, the Comédie-Française and the Opéra national de Paris, together with the Centre's own collections and donations from theatres, theatre companies, costumiers and artists.

The missions and activities of the CNCS are:
- The inventory and conservation of the collection of theatre costumes and elements of theatre sets held in trust from the three founding institutions as well as donated collections.
- Conservation of the costumes following a policy of preventive conservation carried out by a restoration department.
- Valorisation of the collections through temporary exhibitions presented at the CNCS or abroad and through a program of cultural activities aimed at a varied public.
- Cooperation in the training of professionals in conservation and other artistic trades.
- Establishment of a documentation centre accessible both at the centre and on the internet.
- Operations in partnership geared toward a large public and especially toward students in the public school system.

Among the facilities on the 7,000-m2 site:
- a reception area, boutique-bookstore, cloakroom, café/restaurant and a 100-seat auditorium
- temporary exhibition areas (1,500 m2) with eight display rooms conceived as small stages and one large room equipped with stage machinery permitting the placement of costumes in a scenographic context.
-a 150-m2 documentation centre open to the general public.

The CNCS is a museographic and scientific tool but above all a resource centre open to stage professionals, researchers and the general public.